Two words, one seemingly achievable concept…right? Wrong. Self-love is one of the hardest lessons this life has to offer us. For so long society has dictated what “beautiful” is, and God forbid you don’t fit into it’s pre-determined specifications, where does that leave you? Ugly? Self-conscious? Striving to be something that is unrealistic and sometimes even unattainable because some ad exec in a board room decided this is what defines beauty? Messed up when you think about it like that, right? I know. Self-love is described as “regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. Considered a desirable trait instead of a narcissistic one,” which in my opinion sounds so much better. The Ashley Graham’s and the Tess Holliday’s of the world are teaching us that it’s acceptable to be yourself, free of shame, and to be beautiful at any size. However, just because society is finally ready to accept it, it doesn’t mean that every woman is ready to love and flaunt her cellulite or be ok with a little jiggle here and there. Self-love isn’t going to happen overnight, but it will happen if you let it. We are living in a time where the “self-love” revolution is gaining some serious momentum, yet some of us are having a hard time doing the work it requires. As someone who’s self-confidence sometimes doesn’t even register on the meter, I’m here to tell you, that that’s ok, and you’re not alone in these feelings. Be patient; self-love is ever evolving. Self-love is the foundation of who we are. Our life is built on this foundation, and if it isn’t solid, life can feel shaky, unsteady and sometimes unpredictable. Fortunately, it is a skill that can be nurtured. A skill that can be practiced, preached, and spread around, as opposed to an innate trait that you’re either equipped with at birth or you’re not. Though, for many of us (myself included) self-love can be hard to come by even on a good day, which can only mean on a bad day, that shit is absolutely nonexistent. I’ve found that on my least confident days the one thing that I cannot seem to shake, is that lovely tiny voice in the back of my head that seems to be one of the toughest critics. Oftentimes I have mistaken this harsh critic for perpetually speaking the truth. However, after much thought and soul searching, I have come to the realization that it is in fact not honesty; it is unwarranted, harsh, masked self judgement. You have to remember that your body hears everything your mind says, so be nice to yourself. The more you hear something, the more you believe it. Which ultimately means that the negative thoughts you produce have the potential to become your strongly held beliefs. Again, easier said than done, but that inner voice will often try to keep you small and safe, and neither personal growth nor self-love live in the comfortability of safety. Another crucial part of your self-love journey, is finding your tribe and loving them hard. Anyone who makes you feel anything other than amazing doesn’t deserve to be in your life. Someone who points out your flaws instead of celebrating everything that is amazing about you, is completely unnecessary in your life. Friends should motivate and inspire you no matter what. Your circle needs to be well rounded and supportive. If this means that it must be small, that’s fine. Quality over quantity, always. Another crucial ingredient in the recipe for self-love, is comparison (or lack thereof really). You have to stop comparing yourself to others. It is said that comparison is the thief of joy. There is something amazing about possessing the ability to admire someone else’s beauty without ever questioning your own. There is no one exactly like you, so there is no way you can fairly compare yourself to someone else. One of the major reasons we struggle with insecurity, is because we are constantly comparing our behind the scenes day to day events with everyone else’s highlight reel. The only person you should ever be in competition with is the person you were yesterday. Stop seeking happiness outside of yourself. It is an inside job for sure. Celebrate your wins, no matter how big or how small they may seem. At least once a day, take a deep breath, let go of all the could’ve, should’ve and would’ve beens that are piling up, smile, and appreciate how light you feel without them. Never allow your beauty to be defined by someone else. It needs to be what you and only you see it as. In your journey to discover self-love, remember to be realistic with yourself. No one is happy every minute of every day. You are human. Allow yourself to feel things, both good and bad. Body confidence will never come from trying to achieve the perfect body, it has to come from embracing what you have. Make no mistake, your voyage will be a difficult one, and it is okay to walk slowly…but it is never ok to go backwards.